Friday’s economic development announcement was music to the ears of the hundreds of former Pemco World Air Services workers in the area.
When Pemco closed its doors, it left area residents like Harold Snead jobless.
“It was like a slap in the face,” said Snead, 40, who worked at Pemco for six years and is currently unemployed.
William Corbin, 42, lost his job as well after 22 years as an aircraft mechanic.
“It was pretty hard to accept after so many years being there,” said Corbin, who now works at Flightstar Aircraft Services in Jacksonville, Fla. “My family had to adjust to it. I had to move out of town to go to work to support my family.”
It took 32-year-old Zubaedia Jesar more than a year to find a job after Pemco laid her off.
Her qualifications as an aircraft mechanic actually hurt her when looking for a job to support her family, she said.
“It was very depressing because I had just received my license and that was my first opportunity to learn,” Jesar said. “When I was getting the grasp of it, they announced they were closing down.”
For its part, Commercial Jet representatives say the company is looking to hire locally, and the work they do is similar to that done by Pemco.
“We’re looking for local talent to support our operations in Dothan,” said Commercial Jet President David Sandri.
Allen Landey, 39, worked at Pemco for five years before being laid off.
“It’s been real tough,” said Landey. “I have hopes of getting back out at Dothan (Regional) Airport with this company.”
Jesar rushed home during her break from her current job as a tax preparer to fill out an application.
“The first thing through my mind was, ‘I can get my job back,’” she said. “That will be awesome, especially with all the students graduating just this year looking for work in the area.”
For Corbin, Commercial Jet represents an opportunity to be with his family again.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I’m a real family man, and I hate to be away from my children. Dothan’s a wonderful place and I think (Mayor) Mike Schmitz should get unbelievable praise for what he’s done for the people here.”
Snead said he hopes Commercial Jet understands one fact above all others – the people of Dothan are hard workers.
“We’ve already got the work force here, and that’s what they are looking for. When they come in, we’re ready to go to work,” Snead said. “I’m very excited. This was a blessing for me and my family. We needed it.”